Small Hive Beetle Advisory #4 Belize

The small hive beetle, Aethina tumida, is a scavenger and parasite of honey bee colonies. The beetle is native to Africa, but was introduced to the US (1996), Canada (2002), Australia (2002), Jamaica (2005), Mexico (2007), Cuba (2012), Salvador (2013), Nicaragua (2014), Costa Rica (2015) and Belize (2016) mainly by commercial movement of bees. It is highly suspected that the incursion of the small hive beetle into northern Belize is due to the illegal trade of Honey Bee products, equipment and materials.

Considered a minor pest in its home range, the small hive beetle has become a major problem in introduced areas. Both adult and larval beetles feed on larvae, pollen, honey and bee brood. The adult female lays her eggs in the hive. The larvae hatch and feed on brood, pollen and honey, then leave the hive to pupate in the soil, where the adults hatch, then fly to look for new hives. Spread can therefore be rapid, as the adults have a range of approximately 13 kilometers. When infestation is heavy, the bees may desert the hive.

A good management by beekeepers is necessary to protect against A. tumida. Maintenance of strong colonies and good husbandry are key elements. Therefore, the most effective control against small hive beetle is maintaining colony strength, coupled with minimizing empty frames of comb, reducing small hive beetle population with the placement of traps containing a broad spectrum insecticide only accessible by the small hive beetle and to discontinue the illegal importation of Honey Bee products, equipment and materials. The diagnosis is made by identifying adult beetles in the hive.

The Ministry of Agriculture in coordination with BAHA and OIRSA will continue providing support to beekeepers in the control of this devastating pest.

Beekeepers are advised to contact Mr. Mario Howe (626-6059) of The Ministry of Agriculture or Dr. Joe Myers (601-6890) of BAHA for any further information.